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Posts from the ‘Poems’ Category


I don’t pick up. I’m standing by the machine listening to my mother’s voice tell me that she wants to stop by and see the baby. She can’t. I don’t pick up because I don’t know what to tell her. My baby is fine. He’s warm and loved and fed. I’m not fine, but she won’t be ignored. I know this about her. An hour passes and she rings again. This time I pick up as soon as I hear her voice. Sorry mom, I just got home, I lied. No, today won’t work. I’m heading out again. She wants to know where I’m going. Not enough time has passed between childhood and adulthood. She is still the mother telling me what to do. She tells me it’s too cold to take the baby out and she’s right. I’m actually not taking the baby out. I’ve been hiding in my house all day. I will hide in my house the remainder of the week. Maybe tomorrow, I say. Then what? What will I say tomorrow? I will say I’m sick. I must put her off. She doesn’t believe me. You don’t sound sick. It’s a stomach thing. Let’s plan for Friday. Friday I will appear to be fine, I tell myself. I open the door on Friday. She is snuggling the baby as I sit watching, waiting, hoping. She looks up with a smile that begins to fade. She is studying my face. What’s wrong with your eye? Nothing. You have a faded bruise under your eye. Oh that. The dog jumped up as I bent down, I lied.

Untitled – Day 4


You stand at the bottom of two roads.

A triangle of hell.

A fork.

Choose one.

Choose right, or choose left,

or choose right, or choose wrong.

You are sleepless and restless and dazed and jumpy and wired and crazy,

because neither road seems bad or good or bad or good or good or bad.

Days turn into nights turn into days turn into nights.

Different people, different places, different animals, different loves, and different losses to experience.

And different climates.

Sunshine or storms or moonbeams or rainbows.

Indecision is a loud buzzing in your ears.

Mystery is swirling around your head.

Your life has become blurry.

There is no sign, no epiphany, no wise old owl.

There are only lists of pros and cons and pros and cons,

written on receipts and napkins and post-it notes.

Your life, on a post-it note.

You close your eyes, put your arm straight out in front of you, point your finger, spin around and around, stop, open your eyes,

And stay.






Who do you think you are coming into this place? This place occupied by me, only. The door was closed. “But you left it unlocked,” you said. You, with your damaged spirit, threadbare and see-through. So open. So goddamned open. Laying your soul bare. Lifting it high into the air and letting it fall to the ground with all four corners of your heart showing. Not one corner tucked. And mine. Cracked. An open fissure mending slowly on it’s own. Your words, a cool, soothing salve. We suffered indifference. Like sand clinging to our skin we gently brushed it from each other. We were hungry. So very hungry.

Tiny Bits

A little girl lies on her bed
watching dust particles float above her head in the stream of sunlight

she builds a fort in the backyard
using old blankets and scraps from the new roof
a pretend house with real flowers

she dips buttered toast into runny yolk
leaving behind the white part
then hurries to dress for school

methodically she puts on her blue plaid skirt,
white sailor top, red sweater, white knee socks,
and polished white oxfords

she draws pictures with a stick in the dirt
while her brother plays baseball, and
her parents cheer

she plays with her white poodle
the one she has to catch after feeding him spaghetti
so she can wash his face

she roller skates, draws hopscotch in the driveway, and
runs with the neighborhood kids
until the street lights come on

she adores her father, whose whiskers
make her cheeks red when he kisses her, and
his voice wakes her every morning with a song.


Day 10come closer
not with a step, with
your heart
not with a touch, with
your eyes
see me, not me
empty yourself, with
show yourself, with
come closer
to me

Forward Motion

A brand new year. Another birthday ahead, and the determination to stay strong, healthy and fit. But it takes motivation. And it takes playing tricks on yourself. It’s cold. It’s late in the day. Fighting the urge to go home, turn up the heat, cuddle with the cat in front of the TV, drink beer, and eat popcorn. You know yourself. You know that if you don’t change into your running clothes at work and steer clear of home until after, you won’t run. So you fool yourself into believing that you would rather run by going through the motions of putting on your bright green Merrells before stepping out of your office. Then you make the first excuse as you drive your car away from work to the intended parking spot just down the road, where you have parked countless times before, and taken off from on your feet. In 15 minutes it will be too dark to run on that isolated one lane road through the vineyards. Where to now? Home? No. Yes. No. The track. Intervals. It will be almost dark, but there won’t be cars that can’t see you dressed in all black. Blocks from home you park your car, put your earphones in, and pick a favorite song to get you moving. The motions. Forward motion. Act like a runner and you become a runner. And you do. And you are. And it feels good. You round the corner on your fourth lap and see half of the glorious moon peeking out from the mountain. The moon that wasn’t there when you rounded the corner on your third lap, and by the fifth lap it sits low and big and full. And you are happy knowing you would have missed the moonrise if you had gone home.

January 15, 2014

January 15, 2014

Assignment #1

Wednesday nights have recently become one of my favorite nights of the week due to a small writing group with a few of my nearest and dearest. I’m in the company of women who I love and trust and it was just the sort of “kick in the pants” I needed to get words flowing again.

The structure is rather loose, though we all joined an online community perfect for organizing small groups where we can post our writing ahead of time for discussion and critique when we meet. It’s working well. One of our more experienced writers (ahem), thought an assignment might be a good idea and she was right.

Two weeks ago she gave us the lyrics to the Norah Jones song, Humble Me, and told us to write whatever we wanted using the song as inspiration. It could be a poem, a short story, whatever. The one thing we all had to do though, was use the same line, It never rains when you want it to, somewhere in our piece.

Last night we met and read the assignment pieces. It was wonderful. I loved hearing where everyone went with it, especially with the line. They were all so different. Being one who brings real life to everything I write, including poetry, I decided to write a prose poem entirely fictionalized. So many have suggested I attempt to write more fiction (if for nothing else) as an exercise to become a better writer. I must admit, I really enjoyed writing this poem, as yet untitled. Don’t expect rainbows and lollipops…

It never rains when you want it to. My mood is dark and all I want to do is hide my face under this tangled blanket. The sun has other plans. I feel scratchy like the strike strip on a book of matches. Allergic to myself. How is it that I always manage to fuck everything up? Fuck it up before it fucks me. Hurt before being hurt. The crying baby with eyes that aren’t mine are a constant reminder. She looks into my soul with those eyes and I wonder how I will tell her. Tell her that it was her momma that blew it all to pieces. That it was her momma who couldn’t keep her legs closed and it was her daddy with his pained and twisted face who set off on a new life because what else could he do? The same thing my daddy did, and when he rescued us yesterday broken down on that dusty road with the sad expression on his face I knew what he was thinking when he looked at me. “You’re just like your momma.”


I was hoping to run four miles
with even breathing and strong legs,
to have my body carry my mind
to the expected peace that always
comes from moving myself from a
starting point and back again.
Along the road in the heat of the day,
a hat shielding my eyes from the sun,
running shorts that expose the full
length of my long legs, brown from the sun
and with a glance at them, I feel strong.
And thankful. Thankful for capable legs
that aren’t so young any longer, but still
behave like they are.
I see tiny clusters of sour green grapes
yielding to all that will bring them to
sweetness, and to harvest, and at
their moment of perfect sugar
they will bring the smell of juice
and big barreling trucks to dodge, on
this now quiet road.
I’m tiring sooner than expected,
short patches of shade
long stretches of sun.
Almost halfway and there is the plum tree,
the one whose fruit was sour last week.
The familiar driveway on this familiar run
the most welcome part of an
out and back, turning around.
I approach the plum tree again and reach to
pluck the fruit no bigger than a cherry.
The taste on my tongue causes
me to stop and turn around
where I pluck another, then another.
Biting into sour skin, releasing the
sweet juice and spitting out the pit.
The athlete becomes the dreamer.
Standing in the shade of the tree,
eating, forgetting the run, feeling
like the carefree child I once was
who wandered alone on hot summer days,
always dreaming.
Shaken by a passing car, and with a belly
full of too much fruit, I walk.
Only to discover wild blackberries
impossible to ignore and so they
too become victim and then I give in.
This is no longer a run.
This is an outdoor adventure of
wild fruit that ended with a perfect peach, and
a stomach ache.

I will dream

I will dream
If they are at the top of the highest mountain
they will still be mine
If they lie where the sky meets the sea
I will not give up
I will put them in a box and hold the key in my heart
I will climb up on the clouds and never wake up
Perhaps I am foolish
But I am alive
And so, I will dream.

The Words

While you were sleeping
I traded the warmth of my bed
for an old hoodie I swiped from my son.

I gave in.

Tossing and turning
in a half-hearted attempt to return to slumber
I gave in to the words.

The heart woke the mind.
The body without a choice
trapped in a conflict
between the heart’s passion and rational thinking.

I may forget this if I don’t write it down.

Turn up the heat and put the coffee on.
I’m on my third cup when the alarm sounds to wake me.
The cat is happy I’m up on this colder than average morning.
His silent meow draws my green eyes to his green eyes
on the other side of the glass.
With a belly full, he curls up on my lap.
He swipes at my hand for affection
as I ignore his needs to satisfy my own.

My fingers touching letters
making words
spilling my blood
laying naked my soul
unearthing what is buried.

Here is my balancing act
my internal battle.
The creative spirit refusing to be squashed
by the girl who must take a shower
make a lunch
get dressed
go to work.
Waiting until the last possible minute to begin the morning routine
always punching the clock a little late.
Blurry spreadsheets
more coffee
lunchtime naps

and stolen moments with the green moleskin notebook that never leaves my side
always knowing that real life will never stifle my true self.

Gretchen L. Kelly, Author

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